Grip Games latest release smacks and punches its way onto the PS Vita and PS3, but not in the traditional way. Karate kicks, neck locks and other such life threatening, death defying holds are out of the window here. Leave your kendo sticks at home, this is Atomic Ninjas - expect rockets, Shiudicks and pools of acid all the way.
Atomic Ninjas is a frantic platformer where you control your fearless mini cartoon ninja to perform outlandish acrobatic moves to outsmart and take out your opponents. These kills can be achieved in many ways and this is where gameplay differs from what you might have expected. Starting off at the Ninja Academy, this will prepare you for battle by showing various techniques in the humourous tutorial. Using traps, obstacles, laser beams and other environmental hazards seems to be the only way to finish off your opponents. Then again a good old fashioned crate to the face always satisfies just the same. This innovative way of using objects to kill your foes really makes for a fresh take on the typical 2.5D action platformer genre. With the added ability of swinging from platform to platform Spiderman style, or rocketing around the screen with the grace of Buzz Lightyear, Atomic Ninjas conveys just about anything is possible.
Atomic Ninjas is a supernova of colour. Steering away from dark and shadowy mystic ninjas, Grip Games have gone for a full on technicolor blast of brightness. Swirling backgrounds combined with simple shades and lighting really create a textured and sharp backdrop. Playing this on the Vita is perfect, both looks and control wise – using the shoulder triggers and analogue sticks just feels right. There is also a varied soundtrack of rock guitar solos, Joe Satriani wah-wah style, all the way to comical music scores. They are all randomly thrown at you and surprisingly all work.
Eliminating your opponents in the seven different arenas, whether it be online muiltiplayer or defeating bots in a single player mode is huge frantic fun. Even though each ninja is super small they sure do pack a punch. Each little warrior’s Super Ability can be upgraded as you progress with 8 abilities in total. Ninja Trials are displayed at the start of each game mode and add more depth and diversity. The game modes are Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Treasure Hunt, Capture the Flag and Domination. Rotating cubes dotted about the screen house different tricks and capabilities that your ninja will need. Using your claw, rope, Shiudicks and the like will help here – even more so if you’re looking to complete those Ninja Trials.
Just when you thought you were getting to grips with rocketing about, dodging moving platforms, firing long range Shiudicks and sending foes head first into walls of fire, Noob Rage comes at you out of nowhere and possesses your ninja. For a brief moment your ninja, sounding more like an extra from Evil Dead, goes all gremlin on you. The first time I encountered Noob Rage it was a hilarious moment, my cat genuinely got scared and bolted off. Get ready, as you’ll experience Noob Rage very early on and quite often too.
Being a multiplayer game you are always going to be at the mercy of your 3 opponents. Prepare yourself, as there will be frustrating times when your opponents decide to unleash their hate on you at the same time…repeatedly, again and again. That being said, you’ll still find yourself glued to the task in hand as the clock ticks down. As the game is heavily geared towards online play all your progression and statistics show your rank, leaderboard position and your points earned. Trophy wise you have 7 bronze , 4 silver and 1 gold to go for.
Grip Games have produced a clever and innovative cracker of a cross-buy title. Executed without a karate kick in sight, Atomic Ninjas is a relentless and addictive platformer. Hi-Ya!
Lizard rating: 8/10
Developer: Grip Games